The sun was setting on the plain fields of Dorapur as Ramaiah inched closely towards the last lump of clay as a part of the day’s pickings. Wiping the beads of sweat off his forehead with muddy piece of cloth tied around his waist he let out a cry of surprise. The clay he had just gathered felt different from the type he had been collecting all day long. It felt different in color, texture and touch. He smelled it to make sure it was not some cow dung that he had picked. The clay dint stink of the excretion of a cattle. He separated the last lump from the rest, stuffed it into the deep pockets of the dhoti and with the basket of clay perched carefully on his head started running towards the thatched roof houses that made up the potter village.
It was dark by the time he reached home. The oil lamps lit through out the village gave it an old world charm to it. The ladies of the village had just begun to put dry sticks in the mud ovens to prepare the dinner for the night. He waved at Shaym’s mom as she was winnowing rice and patted shyam’s mongrel gamu’s head as it gave out a delightful yelp. Hopping through many lanes and by lanes humming Megastar’s Shankar Dada Zindabad he entered his home. Munni was practicing multiplication tables on the mud floor. Patiently writing out the whole sequence and erasing them once done and starting over all again. He teased her by sticking out his tongue because he hated mathematics and also because munni was the topper of her class which he was not. While he was lost in his pranks loud shouts started emanating from the backyard. He ran to see what all the conundrum was all about. His father had once more got high on cheap liquor and welting his mother. Seetiah heaped abuses on his father for not leaving him a fortune; his business partner for cheating him; and Balakrishna for making palanati bramha naidu. Ramaiah hated his father when he was drunk and abusive. After sometime as the effects of the alcohol started showing up the father slipped into a noisy slumber. Ramaiah hugged his mother and wiped her tears. He placated her saying that he would end all their problems for money once he becomes a big man like megastar.
He felt the clay inside his pocket rub against his stomach. Excitedly he took it out. He studied it carefully. It was a variety he had never seen before. His family had a long tradition of pottery. In fact his grandfathers and great grandfathers had been supplying earthenware to palaces of kings. The skill had stayed only their fortunes had floundered. Ramaiah’s father was the best potter in the village (when sober). But he had been cheated out of a large sum of money by his partner and fell prey to loan sharks. And then the booze and recording dance came in. Slowly the pots began to change pattern and character. He lost many of his royal customers and now was almost broke having a tough time making both ends meet. Ramaiah too had learnt the art of pottery from his father at a very young age. He used to do it daily after school before going out to pick clay from the fields. He was good at what he did. But the father never noticed the budding talent of his son.
So Ramaiah was excited. He had a creative shocker. He waited for everyone to sleep and for the lamps to dim. At the dead of midnight he tip toed to the workshop. making the least noise possible he gathered all the paraphernalia that he needed. He wedged the clay to remove any air trapped within. All the rich potters had vacuum pugs to do it automatically but they were no where near to buying one. After that he took the lump in his hand started shaping it. Finding that the hand shaping thing didn’t produce the desired shape he had in mind. he placed the ball of clay on the potter’s wheel and started rotating it with a stick. As the wheel rotated rapidly the solid ball of clay got pressed, squeezed and pulled upwards and outwards into a hollow shape. He pressed the rough ball of clay downward and inward into a perfect rotational symmetry. Next he made a centered hollow into the solid ball of clay. Then he made a rounded bottom inside the pot. evened the thickness of the walls and trimmed it further to refine the shape. He then glazed the pot. He put sticks in the kiln and heated it. And put the pot in it. In the morning he sneaked up again before anyone ventured near the workshop. he took out his precious and looked at it with great pride. It was shining a refulgent golden color. He heard footsteps and quickly slid it in a gunny bag and left. At midnight he sneaked out again and looked at his creation. It filled him with awe and wonder. He took up a pair of brushes and started painting on it. Pictures and patterns were floating in his mind as he rapidly drew. By the time he was done the whole pot was covered with dabs of paint in a variety of colors. And he couldn’t help remark on how beautiful it looked. He knew he had created a master piece of work and that it had to be sold at a very high price. He placed the pot on the mantelpiece so that his father could see it in the morning.
As the effects of the cheap liquor started wearing off in the morning, Seetiah sauntered into his workshop. He looked around at his outdated equipment and resented his poverty. Then his eyes fell on the ornately painted art piece on the mantelpiece and let out a gasp of surprise. He called out aloud to Ramaiah and hugged his son. he convinced his son that if they sold the pot they could get good money and he and his sister some new clothes. Ramaiah reluctantly agreed.
In the pot Seetiah saw good money. He would take it with him to the big city market where all the memshaib’s and sir’s came dressed in impeccable whites and driving a huge Maruthi 800’s. He placed the designer pot amongst rest of the pots that he was going to take to the city the next day.
That night as darkness fell all the pots came alive as usual. The oldest pot of the lot the big mahagomy adressed the designer pot and welcomed him to potland. The designer pot was too gruff to speak to any of the ordinary brown pots. The other pots started murmuring as to which big bungalow’s steps the designer pot would grace. The designer pot stood alone shining in the full glory of the moonlight with his head held high. The moonlight gave him a surreal appeal. A few brown earthen pots tried to hit on him. He told them to buzz off. He was a narcissist. He loved all the attention he got and flaunted his attitude. He knew that by tomorrow night he would be far away from the company of these ordinary brown pots and rubbing arms and getting high with some imported china in some big mansion over looking the sea. The buyer would show him to all his friends and tell them how special and exclusive he was. May be he would be placed in a big glass shelf and shined daily by a horny buxom maid servant or a red rose would grace his narrow neck. He could also be used to pour expensive wine to important people and film stars. What was that hot starlet’s name ? ya Trisha. May be she too would be in the market looking for wares; as he had heard she had a penchant for designer collectibles. He imagined being molested by her tender arms. Such a shweet pleasure he thought. Or may be an art house would buy him and he would be a star attraction in the brochure and get auctioned at Sotheby’s. He could think only about his future. A bright and famous future. The moon slid into unknown realms as the sun started rising again. The pots all became lifeless as the first rays of the sun struck them.
Seetiah and Ramaiah loaded all the pots onto the bullock cart and started towards the town. Both were happy and excited about the money the pot would bring. Ramaiah held it closely to his chest as if guarding a treasure. The trudged along muddy roads till they hit the tar roads of the city. The reached the market as it was just about to open and reserved a nice spot. They laid out their wares with the designer pot on the top. The word about the pot started to spread soon. And lo a crowd started piling up at the stall. Everyone was looking at the amazing designer pot and murmuring and whispering. Few even accused the potter of stealing it from the museum.
The young lover was lost in thoughts when he landed at the stall. With his eyes full of passionate dreams about his girl friend, the moment he saw the pot he knew that this would turn the tide in his favor with respect to the girl, as the other suitors who were proposing to the girl couldn’t present her with a gift like this. He fumbled his pockets and felt the clink of a few coins and a few ruffled notes. After all he was a PhD. student and his meager stipend was hardly enough to cover his expenses. He started negotiating the price with Seetiah. Seetiah drove a hard bargain as he knew that by the looks of him the PhD student could never afford a designer pot like this. Realizing his limited financial resources the poor student left heart broken.
The Newly married husband and wife were out shopping for the first time and the moment the wife saw the pot she knew she had to have it. It was just so beautiful and breathtaking. she pestered her husband who was more interested in the plunging necklines of the sabzi lady in the adjacent stall. The husband din’t want to spoil the mood of his wife so he tried to negotiate a price. But seetiah wouldn’t bulge a piasa from the agreed amount. The husband threw up his hands in the air in vexation and remarked on how illiterate potters were giving an IIM graduate a tough time about price negotiation.
The single father walked in with his daughter on his arms. The alimony money was good and it gave him all the necessary comforts of life except a house maker; which was fine with him. The daughter in her own childish playful manner pointed at the designer pot and demanded daddy buy it or she would complain to mummy and mummy would stifle the money. The father reluctantly agreed. Partly out of fear of his former wife and partly because he wanted to show off his new gotten wealth to his neighbor who was also in the crowd. he dint flinch at the mention of the price and handed out crisp notes to Seetiah. Seetiah was besides himself with joy as he gingerly handed out the vase to the girl. The young girl clutched it tightly. The father daughter duo started walking.
Wham. The cork ball had a fatal mid air collision with the designer pot. All that remained of the pot now was broken clay pieces of different sizes and shapes. The little girl started crying out aloud. The boy who had hit the shot came up to her and placated her with a pink gola. She stopped crying and continued walking with her father sucking on the popsicle.